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Balian of Ibelin (French: Balian d'Ibelin; c.

1143 1193) was a crusader noble of


the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century.

Early years
Balian was the youngest son of Barisan of Ibelin, and brother of Hugh and
Baldwin. His father, a knight in the County of Jaffa, had been rewarded with the
lordship of Ibelin after the revolt of Hugh II of Le Puiset. Barisan married Helvis
of Ramla, heiress of the wealthy lordship of Ramla. Balian's name was also
Barisan, but he seems to have adapted the name to the Old French "Balian" c.
117576; he is sometimes known as Balian the Younger or Balian II when his
father is also referred to as Balian. He is also called Balian of Ramla or Balian of
Nablus. In Latin his name appears variously as Balian, Barisan, Barisanus,
Balianus, Balisan, and Balisanus. Arabic sources call him Balian ibn Barzan,
which translates "Balian, son of Barzan (or Barisan)". His precise year of birth is
unknown, but he was of the age of majority (usually 15) by 1158, when he first
appears in charters, having been described as under-age ("infra annos") in 1156.

After the death of Balian's eldest brother Hugh c. 1169, the castle of Ibelin passed
to the next brother, Baldwin. Baldwin, preferring to remain lord of Ramla, gave it
to Balian. Balian held Ibelin as a vassal of his brother, and indirectly as a rear-
vassal of the king, from whom Baldwin held Ramla.

Defence of Jerusalem

When Balian and his small group of knights arrived in the city, the inhabitants
begged them to stay, and Balian was absolved of his oath to Saladin by Patriarch
Eraclius, who argued that the greater need of Christendom was stronger than his
oath to a non-Christian. Balian was recruited to lead the defence of the city, but he
found that there were under fourteen, possibly as few as two, other knights there,
so he created 60 new knights from the ranks of the burgesses. Queen Sibylla
seems to have played little part in the defence, and oaths were taken to Balian as
lord. With Eraclius, he prepared for the inevitable siege by storing food and
money. Saladin indeed arrived to besiege the city in September, after he had
conquered almost all of the rest of the kingdom, including Ibelin, Nablus, Ramla,
and Ascalon. The sultan felt no ill-will to Balian for breaking his oath, and
arranged for an escort to accompany Maria and their children to Tripoli. As the
highest ranking lord remaining in Jerusalem, Balian, as Ibn al-Athir wrote, was
seen by the Muslims as holding a rank "more or less equal to that of a king."

Saladin was able to knock down portions of the walls, but was unable to gain
entrance to the city. Balian then rode out to meet with the sultan, to report to him
that the defenders would rather kill each other and destroy the city than see it
taken by force. After negotiations, it was decided that the city would be handed
over peacefully, and that Saladin would free seven thousand men for 30,000
bezants; two women or ten children would be permitted to take the place of one
man for the same price. Balian handed over the keys to the Tower of David (the
citadel) on October 2. There was a 50-day period for the payment of ransoms.
Those who could not pay for their freedom were forced into slavery; Saladin freed
some of them, however, and allowed for an orderly march away from Jerusalem,
preventing the sort of massacre that had occurred when the Crusaders captured the
city in 1099. Balian and Patriarch Eraclius had offered themselves as hostages for
the ransoming of the remaining Frankish citizens, but Saladin had refused. The
ransomed inhabitants marched away in three columns. Balian and the Patriarch
led the third, which was the last to leave the city, probably around November 20.
Balian joined his wife and children in Tripoli.

Balian as king-maker, and the Third


Crusade
The fall of Jerusalem, and the death of Sibylla at the Siege of Acre in 1190, led to
a dispute over the throne of the kingdom. Balian's stepdaughter Isabella was now
rightful queen, but Guy refused to concede his title, and Isabella's husband
Humphreywho had let her cause down in 1186remained loyal to him. If
Isabella were to succeed, she needed a politically acceptable and militarily
competent husband, the obvious candidate being Conrad of Montferrat, who also
had some claim as Baldwin V's paternal uncle. Balian and Maria seized Isabella
and talked her into agreeing to a divorce. There were precedents: the annulment of
Amalric I's marriage to Agnes of Courtenay, and the unsuccessful attempts to
force Sibylla to divorce Guy.

Isabella's marriage was annulled by Ubaldo Lanfranchi, Archbishop of Pisa, who


was Papal legate, and Philip of Dreux, Bishop of Beauvais. The Bishop of
Beauvais then married her to Conrad (controversially, since his brother had been
married to her half-sister and it was uncertain whether he had been divorced by
his Byzantine wife). The succession dispute was prolonged by the arrival of
Richard I of England and Philip II of France on the Third Crusade: Richard
supported Guy, as a Poitevin vassal, while Philip supported Conrad, his late
father's cousin.

Balian and Maria's role in Isabella's divorce and their support for Conrad as king
earned them the bitter hatred of Richard and his supporters. Ambroise, who wrote
a poetic account of the crusade, called Balian "more false than a goblin" and said
he "should be hunted with dogs". The anonymous author of the Itinerarium
Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi wrote that Balian was a member of a
"council of consummate iniquity" around Conrad, accused him of taking Conrad's
bribes, and said of Maria and Balian as a couple:
Steeped in Greek filth from the cradle, she had a husband whose morals matched
her own: he was cruel, she was godless; he was fickle, she was pliable; he was
faithless, she was fraudulent.

On 28 April 1192, only days after his kingship was confirmed by election, Conrad
was assassinated in Tyre. It is said that one of the two assassins responsible had
entered Balian's household in Tyre some months previously, pretending to be a
servant, in order to stalk his victim; the other may have similarly infiltrated
Reginald of Sidon's or Conrad's own household. Richard was widely suspected of
involvement in the murder. Isabella, who was expecting her first child (Maria of
Montferrat), married Henry II of Champagne only a week later.

Balian became one of Henry's advisors, and later that year (along with William of
Tiberias), he commanded the rearguard of Richard's army at the Battle of Jaffa.
Later, he helped negotiate the Treaty of Ramla between Richard and Saladin,
ending the crusade. Under this treaty, Ibelin remained under Saladin's control, but
many sites along the coast which had been reconquered during the crusade were
allowed to remain in Christian hands. After Richard departed, Saladin
compensated Balian with the castle of Caymont and five other nearby sites, all
outside Acre.